Canon 1DS Mark III Review

Canon 1DS Mark III Review

The EOS 1Ds Mark III also has a lot of new features compared to its predecessor Mk II, but it inherits many features like the image processor Digic III including Picture Styles, the autofocus module, the 3″ display with 230,000 pixels or the Live View from its fast sister 1D Mk III. The 1D Mk III also features space-saving, resolution-reduced sRAW storage, Highlight Tone Priority mode for better display of bright and medium colours, and a splash-proof hot shoe for connection to the weatherproof 580 EX II flash unit. Like all 1D models, the magnesium housing of the 1Ds Mk III is completely sealed against dust and splash water. The robustness also benefits from the increased service life of the closure system, which has been increased to 300,000 trips.

Most of the other features of the new 1Ds are already found in Canon’s high-speed 1D Mark III model, including the 3″ LCD monitor with 230,000 pixels, Live View mode and ultrasonic dust protection via a vibrating infrared filter in front of the sensor. Also well-known is the AF module with a total of 45 focus fields, 19 of which are designed as cross sensors, which can also be individually adjusted for each lens. Not only the completely sealed housing against dust and splash water contributes to the robustness, but also the closure, which is now designed for 300,000 runs. A new design is the viewfinder prism, which provides a clearer, 0.76x magnified viewfinder image with 100 percent field coverage.

Only at this speed the new 1Ds lags behind the current 1D, but can at least buffer up to 56 high-resolution JPEG or 12 RAW files with up to 5 frames per second. The new sRAW file format allows space-saving handling of raw data and reduces the file size by half. However, one has to be content with a quarter of the nominal liquidation.

However, the main feature of Canon’s flagship product remains an extremely high-resolution CMOS full-format sensor, which now accommodates a whopping 21.1 million photocells on the surface of a 35mm negative and has the same ultrasonic dust protection as the 1D Mk III and the 40D. The predecessor model 1Ds Mark II with 16.7 megapixels was already surpassed in terms of pixel count only by the digital backs for medium format cameras. Canon wants to have further increased the so-called fill factor or the utilization of the sensor surface with enlarged microlenses, which should contribute to an improved noise behaviour despite the smaller pixel size. Canon believes that the 1Ds Mk III can deliver usable images at sensitivity settings from ISO 100 to ISO 1,600 and in extended mode from ISO 50 to ISO 3,200. By the way, the evaluation of such large amounts of data involves two Digic III image processors, which simultaneously receive the 14-bit A/D-converted sensor data via eight channels. This results in a speed of 5 frames per second in full resolution, of which 56 can be stored as JPEGs, 12 in RAW format or 10 as RAW+JPEG combinations in the internal memory. If the buffer is full, the camera writes the data to both SD(HC) and Compact Flash cards. Practical is the possibility to write RAW and JPEG files separated by map type on two simultaneously inserted maps. Data transfer to UDMA-enabled CF cards is expected to be about three times faster than the 1Ds Mk II and about twice as fast as the high-speed 1D Mk III model.

The Live-View works like the 1D Mk III by folding up the mirror, but unlike the 40D it does not offer the possibility to focus again by briefly folding down the mirror. To do this, you have to manually close the Live View, then focus and finally switch it on again. The camera can be conveniently remote controlled via EOS utility by displaying the live image on the computer.

The autofocus module also originates from the EOS 1D Mk III and offers 45 oval-shaped measuring points, which jump from aperture 5.6 and 18 of which function as cross sensors from aperture 2.8. The middle sensor even works up to aperture 8. A small difference can be found in the flash sync time, which is only 1/250 s compared to the 1/300 s with the 1D Mk III.

The viewfinder prism has been completely redesigned to provide a 0.76x larger, brighter, and less distorted viewfinder image that continues to cover 100 percent of the image field, with all the relevant information such as metering characteristics, time, aperture, ISO setting, exposure correction and light balance, white balance, battery capacity, remaining images on the storage media and in the buffer, and image quality settings displayed at the bottom and right edges. The larger prism requires a new upper camera cover plate which, like the rest of the housing, is made of magnesium.

Lithium-ion batteries with a capacity of 2,300 mAh now also serve as power sources in the current 1Ds. They store considerably more energy per volume than the nickel-metal hydride variant previously used in the 1Ds Mk II, which results in a reduction of the camera weight by around 150 grams. In addition, the new energy storage devices allow the remaining capacity to be monitored with percentage accuracy.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III Datasheet


Sensor CMOS sensor 35mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm (crop factor 1.0
)21.9 megapixels (physical) and 21.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 6.4 µm
Photo resolution
5.616 x 3.744 pixels (3:2)
4.992 x 3.328 pixels (3:2)
4.080 x 2.720 pixels (3:2)
2.784 x 1.856 pixels (3:2)
Picture formats JPG, RAW
Colour depth 42 bits (14 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.21), DCF standard
Audio format (video) WAV


Lens mount
Canon EF


Autofocus mode Phase comparison autofocus with 45 sensors
Autofocus Functions Single autofocus, continuous autofocus, Manual
Focus control Depth of field control, dimming button, Live View

Viewfinder and Monitor

Reflex viewfinder Reflex viewfinder (prism viewfinder) (100 % image coverage), 20 mm interpupillary distance, diopter compensation (-3.0 to +1.0 dpt), replaceable focusing screens, grille can be faded in
Monitor 3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 230,000 pixels
Info display additional info display (top and rear) with lighting


Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 63 fields, spot measurement (measurement over 4 % or 14 % of the image field, AF-AE coupling)
Exposure times 1/8,000 to 30 s (Automatic
)Bulb function
Exposure control Program automatic, Aperture automatic, Time automatic, Manual
Bracketing function Step size from 1/3 to 1/2 EV
Exposure compensation -3.0 to +3.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 50 to ISO 3,200 (manual)
Remote access Remote tripping
Motives very few shooting modes (motives)
White balance Auto, Clouds, Sun, White balance bracketing, Shadow, Flash, Fluorescent lamp, Incandescent lamp, From 2,800 to 10,000 K, Manual
Color space Adobe RGB, sRGB
Continuous shooting Continuous advance function max. 5.0 fps at highest resolution and max. 56 stored photos, RAW continuous advance mode with 5 fps max. 12 consecutive images.
Self-timer Self-timer at intervals of 2 s, special features: or 10 s (optional)
Shooting functions Live histogram


Flash no built-in flash availableFlash shoe
: Canon, standard center contact
Flash functions Fill-in flash, high-speed synchronization, long-term synchronization


Image stabilizer no optical image stabilizer
CF (Type I, Type II)
second memory card slot
Power supply Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Canon LP-E4
Playback Functions Highlights / Shadow Warning, Image Index
Voice memo Voice memo (WAV format)
Special functions Orientation sensor, Live View
Ports Data interfaces: IEEE1394, USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High Speed
AV connectors AV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D)
Supported direct printing methods Canon Direct Print, PictBridge
Tripod socket 1/4″
Case Splash guard
Features and Miscellaneous Dual DIGIC III signal processor Built-in
low-pass filter with dust protection functionUDMA
memory access45/19/9-point autofocus
with automatic or manual focus point selectionAF frame
or AF focus adjustment11
Interchangeable viewfinder matsExposure reading memoryPicture style image parameter settings(6 presets 3 user settings)
Playback zoom (1,5

to 10x)
automatic image alignmentAutomatic
switching between FAT16 and FAT32 file formatSimultaneous
RAW/JPEG recording possible (optionally on separate cards)
sRAW setting (small raw data format)
57 Personalization function with up to 3 storable setting groupsDust
and splash protection via 70 sealsAutomatic
sensor cleaningDust reference image functionShock-resistant

metal housing (composite coating,

Aluminium/plastic/glass fibre underframe)
White balance correction via diagram controlBackup function
(with WLAN/WiFi adapter WFT-E2/E2A)
Extended memory management functionsBattery diagnosisAF measurement range

from -1 to 18 EV/LWAE measurement range
from 0 to 20 EV/LWLow-noise modeLive view function

with exposure previewScreen display

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 156 x 160 x 80 mm
Weight 1.205 g (operational)


included accessories Canon LP-E4 Standard BatteryCanon
RF-3 (Casing Cover)
Canon VC-100 Audio / Video CableKonica
Minolta VC-100 Video HeadChargerCoupling KitCamera LidShoulder StrapL4
optional accessory Canon LP-E4 Standard Battery PC Card Adapter
(for Notebook)
PC Card Drive Kit (for Desktop PC)
Canon EF Lens SystemCanon
EOS System AccessoriesCanon
Speedlite EX System Flash UnitsWiFi/WLAN Transmitter
WFT-E2/E2A Camera PocketCamera CaseCleaning Cloth

New firmware 1.1.2: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III with more precise autofocus, among other features

New for the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III: With the firmware 1.1.2, available since today, the individual function C.Fn III-9 is extended by the possibility to make the AF field selection now also over the so-called Multicontroller (so far only over the main selector wheel or quick-adjustment wheel). The individual function C.Fn IV-3 in turn receives further settings that allow the exposure correction function to be selected in new ways. But what the EOS 1Ds Mark III users will probably be most pleased about is that after the update the camera is supposed to focus precisely on extremely low-contrast subjects with higher regularity in AI-Servo AF focus mode. The new features/changes are explained in detail in a freely downloadable PDF document; the firmware itself can be downloaded after entering the serial number of the camera and is loaded with a previously prepared memory card by calling up the corresponding function in the camera menu.

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